Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Fleming, [ca. October 1763]

To William Fleming

Richmond, ca. October 1763

Dear Will

From a croud of disagreeable [companions] among whom I have spent three or four of the most tedious hours of my life, I retire into Gunn’s bedchamber to converse in black and white with an absent friend. I heartily wish you were here that I might converse with a Christian once more before I die: for die I must this night unless I should be releived by the arrival of some sociable fellow. But I will now endeavor to forget my present sufferings and think of what is more agreeable to both of us. Last Saturday I left Ned Carter’s where I had been happy in other good company, but particularly that of Miss Jenny Taliaferro: and though I can view the beauties of this world with the most philosophical indifference, I could not but be sensible of the justice of the character you had given me of her. She has in my opinion a great resemblance of Nancy Wilton, but prettier. I was vastly pleased with her playing on the spinnette and singing, and could not help calling to mind those sublime verses of the Cumberland genius

Oh! how I was charmed to see

Orpheus’ music all in thee.

When you see Patsy Dandridge, tell her ‘god bless her.’ I do not like the ups and downs of a country life: to day you are frolicking with a fine girl and tomorrow you are moping by yourself. Thank god! I shall shortly be where my happiness will be less interrupted. I shall salute all the girls below in your name, particularly S   y P   r. Dear Will I have thought of the cleverest plan of life that can be imagined. You exchange your land for Edgehill, or I mine for Fairfeilds, you marry S   y P   r, I marry R   a B   l, [join] and get a pole chair and a pair of keen horses, practise the law in the same courts, and drive about to all the dances in the country together. How do you like it? Well I am sorry you are at such a distance I cannot hear your answer, however you must let me know it by the first opportunity, and all the other news in the world which you imagine will affect me. I am dear Will yours affectionately,

Th: Jefferson

RC (The Rosenbach Company, Philadelphia, 1946). The MS is mutilated; the place and date line are almost wholly missing; and one word has been supplied from the text in the Southern Literary Messenger, iii (1837), 305, where it was printed with four other letters to William Fleming “from the papers of a deceased revolutionary patriot, once a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia”—presumably Fleming.

Probably written from the home of James Gunn (see Dumbauld, Jefferson American Tourist, p. 36). S   y P   r: Suckey (Suzanna) Potter, daughter of Dr. Henry Potter of Middlesex co. (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , xxvi [1919], 408). Edgehill … fairfeilds: Edgehill was a plantation owned by Thomas Mann Randolph in Albemarle co. (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , xxxii [1924], 39), but, of the numerous estates named Fairfields or Fairfield, it is only possible to say that TJ proposed to reside at one that was near Fleming’s home.

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